• Godard’s work in the sixties can largely be seen as postmodern genre revisionism—and Alphaville is no exception. It is a reworking or deconstruction of the science fiction genre—but it has far more in common with a Bogart hard-boiled detective film. Godard’s love for these films bleeds through.

Godard’s ninth film, his debut just a few years earlier in 1960

Godard’s world building futurism in Alphaville is really just Paris 1965 at night—bleeding lights, modern architecture—and the making of the film should be an instructional how-to book on creating a film on a budget – especially expressionism

Belmondo’s gangster always has a smirk on his face—so Godard went more serious here with Eddie Constantine—a face full of potholes, gruff speech, cold – could be from Melville—this is a trench coat and fedora-wearing dystopia

  • Jeffrey Anderson is one of the best “It’s rather impressive to watch Constantine’s pickled, reptilian mug” https://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/alphaville.shtml
  • Chalk full of Godard’s trademark jump cuts— he intentionally (I think, I mean he’s shooting in a hurry with no budget) crossing the line, Constantine is talking to Anna Karina on one side, jump, and she’s on the other side in the same room
  • Godard’s backpedaling tracking shot, he uses the handheld camera going up the elevator with Constantine— a great shot, he does the reverse a few minutes later with Karina and Constantine this time

Constant cutaways—it reminds me of Ozu’s pillow shots…

…though here instead of alleys, empty interiors, trains and swaying laundry—- Godard cuts to harsh lighting of the Parisian city lights at night, the arrows, the neon sign with the e = mc2

  • One of Welles’ go-to actors Akim Tamiroff is here (Touch of Evil) in a great scene back and forth with Constantine—the single light hanging down
  • The narrative is a labyrinth—Godard never really had more than a passive, sort of mocking interest in narrative anyways. He introduces the great voice-box—the Alpha 60- talk of supercomputers and IBM. Constantine’s character says “I left because I didn’t understand a word he was saying” – haha.
  • The narrative matches the visuals- foggy, enigmatic

Godard’s fifth archiveable film with Anna Karina in as many years

  • That isn’t to say that the writing isn’t brilliant- “it was my first night in Alphaville, but it felt like I’d be there for centuries”- when you have a face and voice like Constantine that absolutely works

How many films can you say influenced 2001 and Blade Runner? The Alpha 60 certainly has much in common with HAL—Godard even uses the light (or sometimes a fan with lighting behind it) as the actual face of the computer.

Constant flashing lights, profile of Karina (the film improves every time she’s on screen), hazy, odd—Godard is just so damn inventive. He even goes to the unprocessed photography late in a few scenes—the film does feel rushed and rough drafty…

…but it feels like the sketchings of a drunk genius—a sort of fever dream with flaws (the pool sequence, or any time the lights come up just ends the illusion a little) — but mostly brilliant moments of cinema that just keep stockpiling up

  • A Must-See film